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One Family Meal

Posted 8.6.2014

Posted 8.6.2014

I am wildly distracted this week.  I suppose one could call it nesting, but that word makes me feel like a farm animal.  I prefer to think of it as setting up shop; plucking items from other parts of the house to puzzle together a peaceful bedroom where a jittery newborn will want to sleep through the night.

Meantime, every time I sit down to think food, my mind is clogged with images of cloth-lined storage baskets and monogrammed crib skirts.Sliced Lemons

This is exactly why we’re not finding out the gender of the child. The less information I have, the less time I have to dwell or overthink, and the better off I am.  This seems to work well for me when it comes to everything from redecorating to raising kids, writing to cooking dinner.   Think.  Execute.  Move on.Tarragon

Take this weekend, for example.    I got so caught up overthinking cribs and baskets and blankets that I completely forgot about dinner.   I pulled some gorgeous chicken legs out of the refrigerator – slender and petite – from local chickens that had never become bloated from antibiotics or lack of exercise.

I didn’t want to start pulling out pots and pans for saucing or stir-frying, and it seemed criminal to remove the taut, shiny yellow skin.  So, I made a potent marinade of mostly lemon juice and olive oil and let them sit for as long as I could stave off the family –about three hours – but they could swim in there for an entire workday if you have that sort of razor-sharp advance focus.Lemon Chicken with Tarragon

While they marinated, I organized my bookshelf to distract myself from decorating.  I arranged my cookbooks by author, re-arranged by subject, then moved the crib around the nursery a few times (to distract myself from the cookbooks) while everyone else went for a bike ride.      

When they returned, we threw the chicken on the grill with some lemon slices and served them with leftover Picnic Potato Salad and salt-and-vinegar cucumber slices.   The chicken was subtle but just bold enough, rustic but elegant.  It was great straight off the grill, and delicious cold the following day.  It’s the type of dish you want to keep in your back pocket, a no-brainer when restless minds are focused on everything but what’s for dinner. Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon

Lemon Chicken with Tarragon
Print Recipe
Serves 6
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Prep Time:
10 min
Cook Time:
25 min
This is a low-key summer meal that can accompany anything from a bold and elegant side dish, to a rustic picnic of cold salads. Use the grill if you have one, or roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees. The leftovers are great served cold or turned into a flavorful chicken salad. I like to serve it with potato salad, a crunchy green salad, or Greek-style orzo with olives, tomatoes, and feta. Marinate for two to eight hours or overnight.
  1. 4 large or 6 small chicken legs (thigh and drumstick attached)
For the marinade
  1. 3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 ½ lemons)
  2. 1 tablespoon water
  3. ½ teaspoon salt
  4. ½ teaspoon sugar
  5. ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  6. Several grinds of black pepper
  7. ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  8. 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  9. 3 sprigs of tarragon
To serve
  1. 8 to 10 lemon slices (from one lemon, sliced about ¼ - inch thick)
  2. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  3. Salt and pepper to taste
  4. Additional tarragon leaves (optional)
  1. Place the chicken in a sealable bag or tightly lidded container.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the salt, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir to dissolve. Add the mustard and whisk. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Add the tarragon and garlic and pour over the chicken. Shake the bag or container to coat the chicken and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours, or overnight, flipping the chicken occasionally to coat evenly.
  3. Preheat to the grill or oven to medium-high (about 375 to 400 degrees). Salt the chicken lightly on both sides and place it on the grill skin side down. Let it cook, undisturbed for ten to thirteen minutes, depending on the size of the legs. Turn the chicken and repeat on the other side.
  4. Once you turn the chicken, place the lemon slices in a small bowl with a 2 teaspoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to combine and grill for four minutes per side. Remove the chicken and grilled lemon slices to a platter and top with additional tarragon leaves (optional). Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold. The chicken will keep in the refrigerator for about three days.
  1. If you’re marinating in a bag, suck as much of the air out of the bag as possible before sealing for best results.
One Family Meal


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